FACT Constitutional proposals for civil liberties

January 17, 2007

FACT Constitutional Proposals

[Jump to the Proposals] [ข้อเสนอแนะสำหรับการร่างรัฐธรรมนูญ (ภาษาไทย)]

We have been campaigning on free speech, human rights and anti-censorship issues since Internet blocking began to impact my academic research.

The ICT Ministry was founded under the previous government but censorship has gotten much worse since September 19 when Dr. Sitthichai Pokaiudom was appointed The Official Censor of the Military Coup. In fact, MICT web-blocking has jumped more than 500% since October, all done outside the law. All these details are on our website
( https://facthai.wordpress.com/data/ ).

This censorship has caused us to do a lot of thinking over Constitutional issues. Though we have a “Constitutional vacuum” at present, the 1997 Constitution remains the foundation of Thai law until it is replaced. Our opinion is that the 1997 Constitution was a good beginning and enshrined many rights and liberties.

We certainly cannot afford to go backwards at this late date. At the very least, almost all of Chapter 3 must be retained. In particular, Section 37 (which includes the Internet, of course), 39, 41, 42, 45, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, all of which do a great deal to protect free speech.

In addition, we suggest adding a section specifically prohibiting all censorship in Thailand. This would go a long way toward protecting academic, press, publishing and Internet freedoms, freedom of thought, freedom of ideas.

The time is long past when government should be treating Thai people as children or believe that any opinion is too dangerous for Thai society.

Only with a public fully-informed by having access to ALL opinions and information, will we progress to be a mature and intelligent society.

Please consider our input to the Constitutional drafting process.

We are available for questioning, clarification or a presentation to the Committee at any time.

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

CJ Hinke

[ข้อเสนอแนะสำหรับการร่างรัฐธรรมนูญ (ภาษาไทย)]


16 January 2550

TO: 2550 Constitution Drafting Council

ATTN: Dr. Noranit Setabutr, Chair

The 2540 / 1997 “People’s Charter” was far-reaching in protecting human rights and civil liberties in Thailand.

The 2540 / 1997 Constitution drafters obviously put much care, thought and consideration to these vital issues.

The matters with which we are most concerned form Chapter 3 of the 2540 / 1997 Constitution.

  1. Section 37 – Freedom of CommunicationThis section provides excellent public protection against censorship. It guarantees UNFETTERED COMMUNICATION by any means, INCLUDING THE INTERNET. This section MUST be retained and the specific consideration of the Internet added. ADD to this PRIVACY consideration that prohibits any individual, including those representing any greater body in government or the private sector, from retaining any records of any individual’s Internet activity such as retention of searches and IP address logs, as at present.
  2. Section 39 – Freedom of ExpressionThis section allows all persons in Thailand to express their opinions in all forms, both spoken and written. It is an excellent guarantee that all persons in Thailand have full access to all information, free of censorship. This section MUST be retained. It should be broadened to PROHIBIT ALL CENSORSHIP: no banned books. It should also provide greater emphasis to the prohibition of government involvement in media ownership.
  3. Section 41 – Free Public ExpressionPress and media freedom.
  4. Section 42 – Academic FreedomThis section should be broadened to PROHIBIT ALL CENSORSHIP of all academic discussion, whether oral or written. No banned books.
  5. Section 45 – Freedom of AssociationMUST be retained.
  6. Sections 58 and 59 – Public InformationAccess by all persons to government will eliminate corruption, make politicians and bureaucrats accountable to the public and make government honest and transparent. “…information, explanation, reason…” MUST be retained.
  7. Section 60 – Public Participation in GovernmentMUST be retained for protection of the public from government secrecy.
  8. Section 61 – Right to PetitionAll persons in Thailand must have the right to petition government for redress. Currently, the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand is only empowered to give recommendations to government with no enforcement powers in law. This allows government agencies and individuals to ignore both NHRC’s requests for information and clarification and to ignore NHRC’s final recommendations. We should give this section more teeth.
  9. Section 62 – Right to SueAs a last resort, all persons in Thailand should be able to bring suit against any individual in government or any government agency for redress. This section should also make provision that government will provide competent, legal counsel, as well as all court costs and fees, FOR FREE to anyone not able to pay. This will enable all persons, regardless of economic status to, have power in government. There may be some risk of spurious lawsuits but the civil protection thus afforded the public will be well worth this minimal risk.
  10. NEW SECTION – Freedom from PersecutionEnd all criminal charges resulting from political considerations. In particular, NULLIFY AND PROHIBIT all basis for defamation and lese majeste in law.

These considerations are vital to a free, transparent, mature and democratic society in Thailand.

We believe nearly all people will choose good over bad. The public does not need to be protected from a few bad people by over-regulation, people will censor themselves. It is high time people in Thailand were treated as adults capable of making their own decisions rather than being treated as children which, till now, has been the case. We can’t afford to call people stupid because they are not part of an educated, elite segment of Thai society.

We support freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of thought, freedom of ideas.

We would be happy to make a presentation to the Council at any time should you require greater explanation than this document provides.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

CJ Hinke

Box 31, Udomsuk Post Office
Bangkok 10261

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